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An evidence-based communication skills training programme for oncology nurses improves patient-centred communication, enhancing empathy, reassurance and discussion of psychosocial needs
  1. Lisa Kennedy Sheldon1,2
  1. 1College of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Cantor Center for Research in Nursing and Patient Care Services, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Lisa Kennedy Sheldon
    University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey, Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125, USA; lisa.kennedysheldon{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • Communication skills training programmes for oncology nurses may increase patient-centred communication.

  • The results showed an increase in empathetic communication by the study participants (eg, reassurance, optimistic utterances), less biomedical talk and longer periods of uninterrupted patient talk after the programme.

  • Research in nurse–patient communication should use established communication skills training programmes and coding schemes and also should employ newer analytic techniques such as sequence analysis to understand patterns of communication between nurses and patients.

  • Further definition of the roles of oncology nurses and the terms reciprocity and patient centredness are necessary in future studies.


Given the increasingly complex treatments in cancer care, patient–provider communication may become overly medically focused. The authors highlight the need of oncology providers to understand ‘where the patient stands’ to be patient centred in their communication and to maintain hope in their patients. Today's oncology nurse provides expert psychosocial and biomedical care to cancer patients but may need support and continuing education to improve communication with patients facing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness …

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